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Female Foeticide and Infanticide

The scholars who have commented in EPW on the revelations of the recent 2001 Census in regard to child sex ratios in the 0-6 age group in Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (Ashish Bose, May 19) and Mahendra K Premi, May 26 have drawn attention to what seems obvious, namely, that since migration is minimal in this age group, the adverse female sex ratios point to endemic female foeticide and infanticide in these states. The statistics provided by Premi on age-specific death rates in the 0-4 and 5-9 age group by sex for the years 1986 to 1994 for India and the states show that except Himachal Pradesh, the three states mentioned above, namely, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and also Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, have for the period covered a much higher mortality of female children compared to males. Since I have used archival sources and census data (till the 1931 Census) to study female infanticide in Gujarat and north India during the 19th century I would like to offer some comments.

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